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CNN Live Event/Special

Closing Arguments Resume In Donald Trump Hush Money Trial. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired May 28, 2024 - 12:30   ET


DIANE KIESEL, FORMER NEW YORK SUPREME COURT JUDGE: First thing in the morning when the jurors are fresh with his jury instructions and then they can immediately begin deliberations.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Judge Diane Kiesel, Adam Kaufmann, thank you very much. Right now, they've approached the judge. Trump stayed -- turned in his chair facing the jury with his arm over the back. They're discussing phone records.

Todd Blanche has said to the jury, Blanche has a way to evaluate witnesses credibility as the oath they take to tell the truth is something Todd Blanche has repeatedly said to this jury while Michael Cohen was on the stand in the testimony that week.

Blanche says if there's anything that we learned in this trial, is that Michael Cohen does not take that seriously, period.

Back here with Paula Reid and Kaitlan Collins. He's zeroing -- again, he's just trying to chip away Michael Cohen's credibility raising questions now about Michael Cohen claiming that there was a phone exchange with Melania Trump that Todd Blanche is saying there's nothing on Michael Cohen's phone records indicate there was such a call. Blanche says he's repeatedly lied under oath. He's lied to his families, he's lied to his wife. He is literally like an MVP of liars. Todd Blanche says.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It's their key point, this is the most important thing they need to get across to jurors, to doubt the version of events that Michael Cohen conveyed on the stand.

Why it's taken Todd Blanche this long to get to that key line? Well, that's something that in hindsight, it may turn out to have been a mistake to take such a winding path to get to this key point.

But this is something we've heard the Trump team say throughout this trial. It is supported by a mountain of evidence that Michael Cohen is a liar and continue that pattern of lying even during the course of this trial.

So, getting at least one juror to doubt Michael Cohen's account of events, when that's really all they need here and Blanche, finally, finally getting there. KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: The question also, though, is how the jury interprets it, given it was Donald Trump who hired Michael Cohen, employed him for all those years at the Trump Organization and kept him close and invited him to the White House.

Blanche says Cohen is also a thief. That was a moment that even the prosecution, I think would acknowledge was not a strong moment for them, because it was something that they had already covered. Ground they had already covered that Michael Cohen exaggerated how much he was owed by that polling firm that he paid to boost Trump's numbers in a poll.

He says he literally stolen his way out the door, sold tens of thousands of dollars through the Trump Organization.

Michael Cohen did not try to downplay that plan when Todd Blanche said, so, you stole from the Trump Organization. He said yes, he didn't try to change the words, he did acknowledge it. We'll see how the jury interprets it.

Obviously, he was someone that Trump kept in his close circle for all this time. The prosecution obviously will have their chance as Michael -- as Todd Blanche is clearly getting to the end of his argument here, to try to say it's not just resting on Michael Cohen's word, you can see the documents for yourselves. You can see the call logs between Michael Cohen and Donald Trump for yourself. And you can hear the testimony of White House aides that, yes, Michael Cohen was at the White House and secured an Oval Office meeting with Donald Trump.

COOPER: It's interesting (ph), if the testimony was -- I mean, some have suggested that they believe the prosecution's case was strong enough without even having Michael Cohen testify, I find that hard to believe. I'm not sure I believe that when I heard that argument being made.

But, I mean, certainly if they could have avoided putting Michael Cohen on the stand, I think they would have avoided putting Michael Cohen on the stand.

REID: And that's exactly it. No prosecutor would put Michael Cohen on the stand if they didn't absolutely have to. So, that's going to be their challenge during their closing.

COOPER: Blanche tells the jury and he lied to you, make no mistake about it. And I think that's a really important point.

I mean, it's one thing for jury to hear, oh, he's lied in the past.


COOPER: But then they would probably like to think, well, he's telling the truth this time, but he's saying he didn't, one of the jurors looked over Bragg while the clip is played.

REID: And this is the new framing. I mean, this is going to be really the only new thing that we see is trying to frame this in the minds and hearts of the jury. Get them to doubt him. That's really what they're going to do here. That's a little bit different than what we've seen so far.

COOPER: Blanche tells the jury that Cohen lied in a podcast clip when he says he met with Bragg all the time. They've never actually met. That, again, also came out on the witness stand.

COLLINS: I mean, he is basically just trying to eviscerate Michael Cohen's credibility, so that if any juror does go into that deliberation room and is sitting there with the others and is thinking, well, Michael Cohen, here's how he presented himself to us. He was, you know, acknowledged his shortcomings acknowledged his lies, acknowledged that he's still -- they're trying to erode any credibility that he may have established with the jurors.

He was sitting quite close to them, looking at them, making eye contact with them as he was answering these questions. Todd Blanche is trying to eliminate any of that before he's done at the lectern.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, he's saying he's lied to podcast listeners, he lied to Congress. He's lied under oath and other trials. He lied to his family, he lied to his wife, and he's saying, Jake, that he has lied to this jury, who was listening to Todd Blanche, very close to the end of his closing arguments, we believe, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Yes. Interesting stuff, Anderson, and we actually called this when it happened, that this was ultimately going to be potentially powerful for Todd Blanche.

Blanche is right now giving 10 reasons why the jury has reasonable doubt. You know, that the he's simply lying to benefit and protect Michael Cohen and nobody else, period.


Each one of these reasons makes a not guilty verdict, a very easy path and a very quick path. So, he's giving him a handy little list -- a little listicle (ph) of 10 reasons why they shouldn't trust Michael Cohen.

And one of them, as we noted, when it happened was this question about the October 24th phone call, where it was proven that he talked to Keith Schiller about a 14-year-old, who was pranking him on his phone.

And yet, Michael Cohen had earlier in the trial has said that phone call was the trot -- was the phone call where he talked to Mr. Trump and said the deal with Stormy Daniels is done.

So -- and so, this allows Todd Blanche to say, he's lied to this person and this judge and this Congress and this that. And he lied to you.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: He's coming in for a landing.


GANGEL: I think. It's been a very long kind of --

TAPPER: Corkscrews.

GANGEL: Corkscrew or a holding pattern as he's given a lot of specifics. Maybe he'll be proven right, right? We'll see.

But the key points that we have been talking about for weeks, especially leading up to today, as you said, it's Michael Cohen's a liar, you cannot base anything that he is saying.

Anything that you decide on what he is saying, and there's no proof. And just to buttress that, there's no proof that Donald Trump knew about this, therefore, he can't be found guilty.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: If I can, this 10 reasons thing that Todd Blanche is doing now, classic Southern District of New York technique, we used to do it all the time.

Here's five reasons the defendant is guilty. And it can be really effective, because you know what the jury does when --

TAPPER: 10's long.

HONIG: 10 is a lot, actually. But when you say I have X number, five, 10. You know what the jury does? To take one, two, they're writing them down, he's giving them ammunition to take back into the deliberation room with them and say, how about point seven? How about point three?

So, he is definitely bringing this thing in for letting. Now, he's getting to the stuff that I think he should have led with and made the heart of what he did.

TAPPER: And Tim Parlatore, it's 12:36. He's been going out for more than two -- well, more than two hours approaching a three, I would think.

You think -- how much shorter do you think this should have been?


TAPPER: Do you think it should be an hour total?

PARLATORE: Oh, yes, maybe an hour and a half, max. The whole part in the middle where he was talking about, you know, McDougal and Pecker and all that kind of stuff, I would have compressed that to a single sentence and said, you know, all of that, it doesn't matter. What matters is the checks.

And then I walk over to the prosecution table, bang on the table, and say, the more time that he spends talking about that, the more you know that there's reasonable doubt that they can't prove the meeting, you know, where they talk about the repayments.


IM PARLATORE: And just the more oxygen you give it, then the more credibility you give it to the prosecution.

TAPPER: Were you surprised that they even mentioned that the -- that the defense even mentioned Karen McDougal?

PARLATORE: Absolutely.

TAPPER: Who was -- who was not really -- it started this at all.

PARLATORE: It's totally -- it's totally irrelevant to this case, you know, what happened -- you know, catch and kill, all that stuff.

I mean, look, I look at it, and I say, they prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was catch and kill.

TAPPER: So, we got -- we're waiting for the -- we're waiting for these 10 reasons. So, you know, Blanche is giving 10 reasons why the jury has reasonable doubt each one of these reasons make a not guilty verdict, an easy path and a very quick path. We're waiting for these 10 reasons like the 10 commandments being withheld from us because there's no cameras in the courtroom.

Reason number one, Cohen created the invoices. They're accurate and President Trump did not have any intent to defraud. There is no evidence of that.

Reason number two, the vouchers and checks, no evidence that Trump knew the invoices were set, we're going to have 10 of these and they're trickling out like molasses but the reason number three, there is absolutely no evidence of any intent to defraud, intent to defraud.

There's no smoking gun where Donald Trump is saying, let's do it this way so that we can hide this from the American people. There's a lot of circumstantial evidence that might suggest that to a juror, but there's no actual smoking gun. The closest thing they have to a smoking gun is these memos from Weisselberg in his right hand man, suggesting this payment plan.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: You know what's fast -- oh, we have number four up too.

TARLOV: Reason number four, there was no attempt to commit or conceal a crime, not one that they've proven in any case, they -- is what the defense is saying.

COATES: Nearly three hours in, they're getting to the actual charges. And five.

TAPPER: Number five, there was absolutely no agreement to influence the 2016 election.

COATES: This is all part of what the prosecution has to prove. And if you think that the jurors are taking notes on the same things. Now you've got the tee-ball game, the prosecutor so now go down to their list of 10 things that they hear all the reasons why this is totally bogus. One thing is really fascinating to me, in the -- in the closing by the

defense was that they're now saying that Trump did not think it would cost him the election. They're trying to undercut this very notion here.

Number five, there was no agreement to influence the 2016 election. When Todd Blanche had to say that Trump was not freaking out about the Access Hollywood aid or the Daniels case, it was all about them trying to suggest that suddenly this was the rest of the world freaking out and he was copacetic about all these different things.


But remember, the jurors have to go back and look at 34 counts. One strong argument the defense could have harped on a lot more is to hear that Cohen because he falsified the invoices by virtue of lying about what was owed.

He can say, well, at least these 11 count, 11 invoices, there is no proof that Donald Trump knew was actually in them. They have to go through each and every one because giving everything to the jurors later on is helpful. But they have the actual count in front of them.

It's not just one charge. This were federal court, it'd be one claim for wire fraud, essentially, they've got 34 to go through.

So, each of these 10 reasons has to apply.

Reason number six, am I would have run the Trump doorman story no matter what. Why are we talking about it?

TAPPER: I don't understand that.

COATES: This is not at all part of the 34 falsified --

TAPPER: I don't even understand that. I don't even understand that argument.

COATES: The idea that --

TAPPER: But they didn't -- but they didn't run the Trump doorman story.

COATES: And exactly. This is why part of the issue -- we're trying to parse through why he would say that, maybe he's suggesting somehow that that they would have run this story.

TAPPER: That probably should say wouldn't.

COATES: In consequential to --

TAPPER: It's probably should say wouldn't have run the doorman story.

COATES: Well, I'm not going to go through because all -- the idea that the doorman story would be a part of this is odd. Number seven, McDougal as a part of a thriving public (INAUDIBLE).

Remember, 34 counts of falsified business records. Here are the big questions for the jury.

Number one, were they business records? Number two, were they false and not just legal invoices? Number three, have they proven the intent of Donald Trump defending --

TAPPER: Number eight, the Daniels story was already public in 2011.

You know what? I mean, this is not as impressive as I thought it was going to be. Like, I thought he was going to present like 10 times that Michael Cohen lied under oath. Yes.

And like taking care of 10 things that he did. And now he's again in the weeds on Karen McDougal. I can't believe Karen McDougal is part of his ending summary.

COATES: The eight makes more sense only because that's part of the idea of the incentive for why to pay her.

TAPPER: Sure, it makes sense.

COATES: Number seven, McDougal --

TAPPER: We all need editors.

COATES: Not there.

GANGEL: Could I just suggest --

TAPPER: That's the best and great lesson of this -- of the closing.

GANGEL: Can I just suggest, we need a close up camera on Tim right now. Because as these have gone by, surprise, dismay, hands up in the air.

TAPPER: Choking maneuver.

GANGEL: This is -- this is not good.

PARLATORE: You know, I mean, Elie said, you know, before, this is a classic southern district U.S. attorney's move and they usually do the top five (ph).

HONIG: But do it well.

PARLATORE: You know, I mean, stretching it out to eight and 10 just so that you can get have a bigger number. I mean, I --

HONIG: I mean, look at number seven. McDougal did not want the story published. Who cares?

TAPPER: Number nine. Sorry. Reason number nine, the evidence was manipulated and again, but correct me if I'm wrong, that's facts, not an evidence, right? Have they introduced any proof that any of the evidence has been manipulated?

HONIG: I think he's arguing about the recording that Michael Cohen made. And he's argued that it was cut off at this coincident.

TAPPER: Right. But it -- but it hasn't been proven that it was manipulated.

HONIG: Right.

COATES: They had testimony that the contrary about this idea that there was that each thing was rounded up at one point in time, that Michael Cohen said that it was cut off because of an incoming phone call.

TAPPER: Right.

COATES: And they showed a corresponding document and say there was an incoming phone call.

TAPPER: Yes, well, that's what I'm saying.


HONIG: Yes, there's four good ones. The first four are good.

TAPPER: Yes. Tim, go.

PARLATORE: Can I get the top three list?



TAPPER: What's your top three?

PARLATORE: Here's the top three. One, the only evidence that he knew that about these false business records is the meeting with him, Cohen and Weisselberg.

Two, the only evidence you have of that is Cohen's word and he elides. Three, Weisselberg wasn't called.

TAPPER: Right.

PARLATORE: That's your top three.

TAPPER: What about number four, Michael Cohen is unreliable?


TAPPER: Number four, that was -- well, we got --

COATES: Well, top 10 that would be a great one. Number 10 is going to come up. What time?

GANGEL: Nine, the evidence was manipulated. Did we do that already? TAPPER: We already did that. But we don't have -- I don't -- I don't know that that's proof. That's an argument that he's making. But it's not -- it's not a fact in evidence that it was definitely manipulated.

GANGEL: For three hours there --

PARLATORE: AND they're showing this in reverse order. You know, Jay Leno, at least started with the silly one at number 10.

HONIG: Letterman.

COATES: Letterman.

TAPPER: That's heresy -- that's heresy, my friend.

COATES: Well remember, three hours (INAUDIBLE) this was three hours in, and we're after a break, which means that they were able to regroup as a collective legal counsel team, that doesn't just include Todd Blanche. It includes Necheles and includes Bove as well.

And collectively, they're preparing for this defense. So, we're talking about Todd Blanche as the one to provide it but the idea here that they would come back and begin again with Stormy Daniels is very telling.

They have to go and undermine, they get one bite at the apple. Number 10 here we are.

TAPPER: Here's number 10. Michael Cohen, he's a human embodiment of reasonable doubt or as he called him earlier in the day, literally an MVP of liars.

All right, so that -- I mean, you would -- you would include that one though. (INAUDIBLE) You would have top three lists, but you would amend the number four.

PARLATORE: No, I mean, that's --

COATES: Part of.

PARLATORE: If you pair that with the fact that everything rests on this meeting between Cohen, Weisselberg and Trump. Everything rests on that meeting and the only evidence you have is Cohen's word.


PARLATORE: That's where his focus needs to be, not McDougal, not even Stormy Daniels. I mean, all of that's -- not Pecker. Certainly not the doorman. None of that stuff.


KASIE HUNT, CNN HOST: And yet, bring it up.

(CROSSTALK) TAPPER: So, yes, it's confusing, Anderson. Maybe your panel up there

can -- you're more New York -- you're New Yorkers. We're just tumble country folk out here. maybe you guys can figure it out because we're confused.

COOPER: Well, you can come up to the city. We'll show you around some time, Jake. But Paula Reid here and Kaitlan Collins.

It is interesting that this -- obviously, that's a powerful thing to Jake's point. Also the line that Todd Blanche had used the -- that Michael Cohen is the MVP of liars. Also, a member line. But a lot of this does seem sort of throwing up a lot of stuff and seeing what sticks.

REID: Yes, meandering. It's what we saw Todd Blanche doing even on his cross examination of Michael Cohen, he would land a punch, but it just took him so long to get there.

Now, here he's arguing that Michael Cohen is biased and motivated to tell you a story that is not true. Again, hammering home the idea that Michael Cohen is a liar that is well worn territory in this trial.

But I think in hindsight, when this case is studied, when this trial, right, becomes a permanent part of history, a lot of folks are going to look at this closing and wonder if this was the best approach or if he spent too much time on things that don't matter on people that don't matter to the actual criminal charges that his client is facing.

COLLINS: But he did -- he says like GLOAT, the greatest of all time. Blanche says that Michael Cohen is the GLOAT. The greatest liar of all time.

Obviously, Donald Trump, as we've heard from our reporters in the room is watching Todd Blanche intently as he is delivering this because he is delivering this to 13 people.

Yes, these 12 jurors who are sitting there in the room. Also Donald Trump cares greatly about this. There's an immense amount of pressure. Trump's attorneys who spent the last week kind of going over everything.

I will say that I do believe the reason Todd Blandche was going through different aspects of what has come up with this trial from Karen McDougal to the doorman in the story that David Pecker and National Enquirer determined was false is they were worried the jury would forget a lot of this because not only did they just have a week off, it's also been six weeks since they heard from a lot of these witnesses. And so, they felt the need to kind of go through all of it again.

COOPER: And Blanche ticking off that Cohen lied to Congress, to Justice or to the judges, to his family.

COLLINS: Yes, and what and I'll say Michael Cohen would say, well, I lied to my family, because I hid the fact that I took down a home equity line of credit and drew that down to pay off this $130,000 to Stormy Daniels, he's not -- I mean, the testimony wasn't that h was just lying to his family Todd Blanche (ph) , it was for this specific reason.

I also think part of this where he is just hammering Michael Cohen, as these are his final comments to the jury, he will not get a chance to speak to them again, after he has done now is because they know that the prosecution will try to make the case about what Michael Cohen testified to.

And also that, you know, so much of this doesn't just rely on Michael Cohen's testimony, but also the documents here.

That's why Trump was so upset that they had to go first. And then this couldn't be the final word that the jury heard before they go home, potentially at the closing arguments. And as soon as today.

COOPER: And that -- I mean, Trump has tried to sort of try to indicate that that's some sort of sign of corruption are fixed. That's that is the way things work in New York.

COLLINS: Yes, exactly.

COOPER: And number of other states.

REID: Yes. And several other states as well. Prosecutors have the burden to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt. And that is why they get to go last in the state of New York and other states. I think intelligent minds can disagree about whether defendants go but there's no -- nothing special about that here.

Now, Cohen lies to family, when it matters, when it doesn't. Blanche says his words cannot be -- cannot be trusted. And I'm going to end the summation soon. If you focus just on the evidence you heard in this courtroom, this is a very quick and easy not guilty verdict. He is done.

COLLINS: This is interesting. He also said this isn't a referendum on your views on President Trump. This is not a referendum on the ballot box.

Obviously, one thing that we know that is looming over this jury is this celebrity of this trial. I mean, he is a former president, it is this, you know, famous New Yorker, iconic New Yorker who was sitting there at the defense table.

We've heard from a lot of jury consultants, including Renato Stabile and others that sometimes that makes it completely -- you can't predict what is going to happen with a jury because sometimes the sheen of celebrity has this, you know, overpowering effect on the jury when it comes to how they ultimately make a decision.

So, there's just so many unknowns here of what this jury is thinking and how they took Todd Blanche's closing argument but it is notable, he just finished right on time at about 2.5 hours of his summation.

COOPER: So, there'll be the lunch break, prosecutors will begin their final arguments. So, this should conclude by the end of the day.

REID: Yes, they've asked, the jury will stay late, they're going to get some snacks. Apparently they were pretty happy. That's one of the few times that they have betrayed their emotions and what they're feeling. They're excited to get fed.

But yes, we expect that prosecutors will wrap up and then tomorrow, the judge will charge them, give them their instructions and then send them off with this historic case.


It's completely unclear how long it will take them to decide this. There are a lot of legal experts who predict there could be hung on some of the counts.

If that happens, they'll come out, the judge will then likely send them back what's called an Allen charge. I'm told there's some concern about that, right? Pressuring additional pressure. Now, this is part of the process. This is what happens in the state of New York if you can't make a decision, but this could go on for a few days.

COOPER: All right, let's go back to Jake. Good to see you, Jake.

TAPPER: Thanks, Anderson. So, the defense summation, this defense closing argument was just under three hours, it was two hours, 51 minutes.

And of course, the courtroom is in recess for lunch until 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Blanche ended his arguments by saying if you focus just on the evidence you heard in this courtroom, this is a very quick and easy not guilty verdict.

He also before he left said like GOAT, which is the greatest of all time, Blanche called Michael Cohen, the GLOAT, greatest liar of all time, he is biased and motivated to tell you a story that is not true.

Interestingly, there were a few errors in the defense slide at the end there, one of our reporters learned about notes, instances of manipulation of evidence, they have the wrong October 2016 date for the alleged call to Trump via Schiller, they wrote October 20th, instead of October 24th. They incorrectly called the D.A.'s custodial witness David Daus. His name is Douglas Daus.

What do you think, Tim? Impressive summary. It's impressive closing.

PARLATORE: It went way too long.


PARLATORE: It included way too much extraneous information. And as much as he has probably bored the jury to tears, Steinglass has the opportunity in 4.5 hours to do worse.

TAPPER: Well, I mean, if -- and what would you tell Steinglass to do?

PARLATORE: Shorten it up.

TAPPER: Shorten it up.

PARLATORE: If I -- if I were sitting there and I could grab Steinglass in the hallway and say what to do, shorten it significantly.


PARLATORE: Just take the points, you know, take that top 10 list at the end, nail that right off the -- right off the top, and then shorten it up. You know, this is way too long. They're going to vote.

TAPPER: So, right now what's going on, we have Steinglass asking for a curative ruling for something.

COATES: Yes, there was an earlier point in time when, during the test, during the closing, Todd Blanche suggested why you couldn't send this person to prison.

TAPPER: But you can't send Donald Trump to prison?

COATES: Yes, over these information. There's an objection that was sustained. And now they're asking me for an instruction to tell the jury essentially, listen, you cannot consider that number one. And also this aspect of as well.

First of all, it's very interesting to ever get an objection during either the closing or open, we've had that happen more than once now in this particular case, that's important because you do not want to signal to the jurors something as actually chuck a nerve with you. Especially if you have --

TAPPER: -- for one second at the bottom of your screen on the right side, you see people from the Trump team walking out for lunch break, I imagine if we haven't already that we'll see the former president himself as well doing so that's definitely his posse.

Go ahead, I'm sorry, Laura.

COATES: Also, we're going to see from the prosecutions, if this case had one witness, then perhaps this would have more meat on the bone from the defense.

They had many witnesses beforehand to try to pre-corroborate Michael Cohen. They knew full well in the overall landscape that they would go after Michael Cohen in their closing and the trial as well.

They're going to have to now at this point in time, come back up and rehabilitate not only that witness, but also confirmed the jury. You didn't just hear from Michael Cohen, you heard from all sorts of people, none of whom is credibly was ever questioned during this.

Also the prosecution said that Blanche is doubling down that it's perfectly plausible to have no retainer agreement when that is not the law in New York State. This goes back to the heart of the matter that they tried to suggest that Cohen said, well, here was why I was being paid, written or not, here's the expectations. He's trying to go at that great point.

HUNT: So, can I just ask a question, this part that there are -- that they're arguing about where Todd Blanche says you cannot send someone to prison, you cannot convict somebody based upon the words of Michael Cohen. And now the prosecution is asking, can we fix this? You cannot -- you're trying to generate sympathy.

TAPPER: Roshonda (ph) said that he said that Todd blanche has comment about sending Trump to prison was outrageous.

HUNT: And is this --

TAPPER: That's the judge ruling.

HUNT: This feels very political to me in this context.

TAPPER: Why is it so outrageous?

COATES: Their job is unto actually sentence, the jury's job is to find guilt or innocence. It is the judge who --

TAPPER: Judge Merchan saying you know that making a comment like that is highly inappropriate. Would you have known that?

HONIG: Of course, if prosecutors are not allowed to say anything about the punishment to a jury. Now, defense lawyer somehow --

TAPPER: Simply not allowed period, Judge Merchan says it's hard to me to imagine that was accidental.

HONIG: Right.

TAPPER: In any way the judge.

HONIG: Now, the judge, I believe, when he instructs the jury tomorrow, as part of the standard instruction will say, the sentence is of no concern to you, jury, you're not to take that into consideration.

What the judge is thinking about doing now. OK, there we go. So, the judge is going to give a curative instruction as to the prison comment, meaning, when the jury comes back after lunch, Judge Merchan is going to turn to them and say, essentially, this, you just heard the defense lawyers say something about you can't send this guy to prison, I'm instructing you as a matter of law. I'm the judge here, that is irrelevant, you are not to take punishment into account in this case.


He may even go a bit further and say, not even clear whether there would be a prison sentence. So, that's going to sting. You do not want to finish up your closing as either lawyer and then have the judge bring the jury back and go that thing you said at the end, inappropriate.

COATES: Imagine it was death penalty case, for example, right? TAPPER: You can't put his name to death.

COATES: Yes, imagine if that was taping. It's going to be, we talked about in the witness in the information that comes in, prejudicial versus probative value, the idea of going to a deliberation having a jury, thank gosh, not if it's a matter of proof or you've met your burden. But do I want this person to go to jail, I might like this person, I want this person to have descendants. It's inappropriate.

HUNT: And this is the part that I'm also wondering about, because that makes total sense. It's actually very clear that example, which is helpful.

But in this example, the idea that he's going to prison, it's much more than just a question about one man whose life is going to be affected. It is about the Republican nominee for President of the United States, one of the two people most likely to ultimately be President of the United States.

I mean, there are layers upon political layers to what Blanche did just there. And it does -- I guess my question would be, can it be it a simple mistake, or is he doing it on purpose?

HONIG: No, he did it on purpose. I can tell you firsthand because as prosecutors we hated this, we used to guard against it. We used to try to preempt it. We would jump out of our seat objecting to this. Hundred percent Todd Blanche knows that's inappropriate. Hundred percent He just snuck it.

COATES: Well, you had done this every time?

HONIG: Well, defense -- no, they do that but they have their ways.


COATES: That's wrong when you did it.

TAPPER: We got to -- I'm sorry.

PARLATORE: I wouldn't have done it this way.


PARLATORE: I have done it but in a legal way that I'll tell you about later.

TAPPER: So, CNN's special live coverage of Donald Trump's hush money cover up trial continues after this quick break. We'll be right back.